The story started in yesterday's blog, told by Coen Cunningham, Lawrence County School Superintendent, continues as follows:
For the first time in the history of this county we shall see an acrobat become an eighth grade graduate. He is Philip Piantone, one of the six Tip-Tops, the world’s fastest acrobats who played the Lawrence County fair at Bridgeport, Illinois last September, 1927. As his part of the commencement program, Mr. Piantone will give an acrobatic performance consisting of hand balancing, contortions and tumbling. He has been here for the past week practicing and getting used to the stage at the Lawrence Township High School, Lawrenceville, where the commencement will be held.
Piantone is a young man 20 years of age. He was born in Austria of Italian parentage, and came to the United States at the age of three years, entering school at Norristown, Pennsylvania, at the age of seven years, and continuing in his school work until 14 when he completed the seventh grade. At this time he was compelled to leave school to help support his family of nine brothers and sisters. His love of America and American ideals cannot be expressed in words.
At a very young age he cherished an ambition to become one of America’s distinguished surgeons. Later at the age of 18, he became a professional acrobat after years of hard training with himself as teacher, principally. He was able to do this because of his persistency. Then he cast his lot with the six American Tip-Tops, which troupe played not only the best county and state fairs but the best theaters of Canada, but required hours of practice each day, and then four hours of intense study every day. He studied while riding on trains, between acts at the theatres, and before and after shows. His attention to his books invoked a lot of criticism from his fellow comrades who asked him if he was going to make a preacher out of himself.
Piantone is a young man of clean habits, he does not use tobacco or intoxicating liquors in any form and he does not have any other bad habits that many young men of his age have. He has helped his family with his spare money ever remembering that his mother has been a great inspiration to him. He has real character - something to be proud of - a great possession. As a young chap he was a physical weakling, but by persistency in physical exercises he has not only developed a strong body, but he has become a professional athlete and acrobat able to do things that few men, indeed can do. He has worked himself up to the place where he can make an attractive earning on the stage, but he is leaving that for greater service – to become a surgeon at which he can not only relieve suffering humanity, but also go into research work for the purpose of putting his name on the pages of history many, many years hence.
Among other things that are giving him inspiration to go ahead and accomplish his goal is the encouragement that has been given him by a young woman in Chicago – Miss Freda Bernard, who has been a constant inspiration to him.
I sincerely hope that Philip Piantone will receive encouragement at the hands of the people of Lawrence County, where he has now decided to work out his four years of high school after when he will spend six years in a college of surgery. He will be 31 years of age when he reaches his goal.
Ed Note: The researchers could not determine what happened to Mr. Piantone after this article. Thanks to Roxane S for transcribing this article.